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Percy Horton (1897-1970):
Study for Blind Workers in a Birmingham Factory, c.1942
Unmounted (ref: 7957)
Pages from sketchbook
Size when open :11 ½ x 18 ¼ (29.2 x 47 cm)
Exhibited: WW2 - War Pictures by British Artists, Morley College London, 28 October -23 November 2016, cat 97.
Literature: WW2 - War Pictures by British Artists, Edited by Sacha Llewellyn & Paul Liss, July 2016, cat 97, page 142-143.
Horton was a member of the teaching staff at the RCA. In 1943 he was given a short-term contract by the War Artists' Advisory Committee to portray ordinary people, including J. A. Leach who worked at the factory of Messrs A V Roe of Manchester (better known as AVRO, makers of planes like the Lancaster bomber).
From 1940 the WAAC specifically focused on ‘ordinary’ people, in keeping with the concept of the ‘people’s war’, but mainly civilians who had made a unique contribution to the war effort, including those honoured for their deeds: for example a few had won the George Cross or the George Medal: ‘ … in 1943 the WAAC representative from the Ministry of Production favoured the acquisition of yet more factory scenes and portraits, this time as part of a campaign to mollify production workers whose unhappiness with their working conditions was resulting in a worrisome proliferation of strikes …
Of the factory pictures commissioned by the Committee in that year, Percy Horton’s Blind Workers in a Birmingham Factory was one in which the subject, by suggesting that even the severely handicapped could make a useful contribution to war production, seemed particularly appropriate to the Ministry of Production’s purposes.’